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Altoona Mirror (Newspaper) - March 27, 2001, Altoona, Pennsylvania Nation: FOA examines acetaminophen worries C.Life: Guitarist Bill Harley will perform at Mishler DIAltoona iMtrror © Copyright 2001TUESDAY, MARCH 27, 2001 soc newsstand Tipton facility lays off workers ■ New Pig Corp. furloughs employees for the first time in company history. By Walt Frank AND KEVIN OTT Staff Writers TIPTON — New Pig Corp. has become the latest local industry to announce layoffs as the result of the slowing economy. Twenty-seven full-time workers were laid off permanently Monday, the first layoffs in the company’s 16-year history. “We had to make a difficult decision. My heart goes out to our employees,” company president Nino Vella said. “We have no intention to bring back these people and have no intention of making any further cuts.” Two employees affected by the layoffs offered no comment when phoned Monday night. Another employee who was laid off said the company gave no warning of the job cuts. “There was no clue at all,” said the employee, who asked not to be named. The cuts leave the company, a supplier of cleaning and maintenance products for industrial facilities, with 322 employees, Vella said. The layoffs included mostly office positions such as marketing, sales, support staff and human resources. The slowing economy played a role in the decision, Vella said. “We noticed in October the slowing of orders from the auto industry,” he said. “Our business is impacted by the big three automakers; their suppliers buy a lot of products from us. It is a preventive measure so we can handle any surprises in the economy.” The cuts also were necessary because New Pig is reallocating its resources into e-commerce to develop a super site, expanding into multiple distribution channels and responding to lower prices on the market that the company serves, Vella said. New Pig is not in any financial difficulty. “Financially, the company is strong. We are not in financial trouble,” Vella said. Founded by Ben Stapelfeld and Donald L. Beaver Jr. in 1985, New Pig created the contained absorbents industry with the invention of the original PIG Absorbent Sock, the first contained absorbent for leaks and spills. Please see Layoffs/Page A6 BLAIR COUNTY CONVENTION CENTER Mirror photo by Jason Sipes A view of the window wall near the entrance to the Blair County Convention Center. Finishing touches Work on $15 million project in its final stages 013 I It began as an idea almost 50years ago. It took years of planning, settling on a site and securing funding, but the Blair County Convention Center will open in about six weeks. In a special section inside today titled People & Progress, we'll trace the steps that led to the center's construction and what impact the center will have on the area. People & Progress also will examine what happened in business and industry during 2000 and what lies ahead in economic development for Blair and surrounding counties. Years in the making, Blair facility ready to open Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec ALSO INSIDE: State inspection of the convention center is    Rick Reasy of Martinsburg, an employee of Lawruk expected to be completed today / PAGE A7    Btdlder Inc. of Altoona, paints a doorway near the lobby. Dismissal of murder plot case overruled ■ The Pennsylvania Superior Court reinstates charges against an Altoona woman accused of trying to kill friend’s husband’s lover. By Phil Ray Staff Writer A decision in a murder conspiracy case that turned into a political nightmare for Blair County District Attorney Dave Gorman has been reversed in Pennsylvania Superior Court. Gorman said “much has been made” of the dismissal of charges against Susan Gail Chaplain, 31, and her friend Carolyn Burke, 32, both of Altoona. The two women were charged almost two years ago with solicitation to commit homicide and conspiracy to commit homicide. In separate decisions, Blair County Judge Norman D. Callan dismissed the charges against the two women because Gorman was unable to bring them to trial within a year, a violation of their speedy trial rights. But Gorman said he didn’t bring the women to trial because he was appealing another ruling by Callan that blocked one of his star witnesses from testifying. Callan refus^ to grant Christopher Chaplain, then 17 years old, immunity to testify, and an appe^ of that decision was a justifiable delay in the trials, Gorman said. Callan didn’t agree and ordered the cases dismissed. In a ruling Gorman received Monday, the state Superior Court overturned Callan’s dismissal in the Chaplain case. The court likely will make the same ruling in the Burke matter, noting “the two cases are inexorably linked.” The cases have become a campaign issue between Gorman and his opponent in this year’s Republican primary race, attorney Robert S. Donaldson. When Donaldson announced his candidacy, he cited those cases as examples of Gorman’s inability to perform the job of district attorney. Please see Plot/Page AB CURVE TRAINING REPORT Gorman A pf* lj^ Cavrich Giger Mirror photographer J O. Cavrich and sports writer Cory Giger are in Bradenton, Fla., with the Curve during spring training. Catch their reports from the Sunshine State beginning in today’s Mirror. Skiers, resorts happy with extended winter By Jon Fleck For the Mirror As many people yearn for higher temperatures, locd skiers continue to hit the slopes thanks to extended winter weather. Blue Knob All Seasons Resort had nearly all of its 34 slopes open over the weekend to the delight of those who made the trip up the mountain. “It was spectacular,” avid skier Keith Penatzer said. “Ifs going to be even better this weekend.” Penatzer logged more than 250 hours on the slopes this season and fi^ed he was done for the year in mid-March. “I cleared out my locker and took everything home last Sunday IMarch 18],” he said. “I hauled it all back over the weekend.” This season’s conditions represent quite a change from recent years. Please see Winter/Page AB Erie surpasses record for seasonal snowfall The Associated Press Mike Dylewski works to clear his front sidewalk of snow in Erie, which broke its season snowfall record this year. By Mike Crissey The Associated Press ERIE — A weekend storm that dumped almost a foot of snow has pushed Erie to its snowiest winter on record. As of Monday morning with snow flurries still falling. Erie had shoveled its way out of 144.9 inches since October, slightly more than the 142.8 inches the city received in the winter of 1977-78. Weather records for Erie date back to 1847, said Kirk Lombardy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland. The first snow of the season in Erie was Oct. 7-9 when traces were reported. Since then, the city has had snow on 99 of the past 168 days, including a 34-day stretch from Dec. 5 to Jan. 9. Although there’s slightly more snow so far this winter, city officials said it doesn’t compare to the winter of 1977-78. “It is not the worst winter, that’s the key. We had quite a few times Please see Record/Page AS DELIVERY Subscription or home delivery questions: 946-7480 or (800) 287-4480 22910 OOdSQjf 4 BIG FOUR13    8    8 I Lottery numbers, A2 WEATHER Mix of sun, clouds, 35® ■ Fore|;ast, A2Altoona iJIirror HQT-ADS.dom We're white-hot! 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